A lot of times, it isn't exactly neuroscience to figure out which transfer portal players will make significant impacts.

For instance, if you had any doubts Caleb Williams was going to show out after leaving Oklahoma for USC last year, you were in the vast minority.

This season, it would be a shocker if Sam Hartman wasn't flinging darts for Notre Dame and Travis Hunter wasn't a difference-making defender for Colorado.

Often, those who make massive impacts aren't at the top of the rankings. Those ratings, much like those in recruiting, aren't a guarantee, and sometimes, all a player needs is a change of scenery. Scouring the portal pledges proves there are a lot of guys with high upside who could do big things in 2023.

To make this list and be considered a sleeper, a player had to be ranked outside the top 50 in 247Sports' transfer portal rankings or be a quarterback outside the top 10 at that position.

Let's take a look at some guys a bit off the periphery who could star in new surroundings.


Brian Battie, Auburn Running Back

The Hugh Freeze era is about to begin on the Plains, and the Auburn Tigers will be a lot better than most people think.

The former Liberty (and Ole Miss) front man already did plenty of heavy lifting for the Tigers through exceptional last-minute recruiting and a transfer portal haul that was heavy on defense and some difference-makers on the offensive front.

But the biggest get may just be former South Florida running back Brian Battie, who is going from a terrible program to a proud one to test his skills against the SEC. He joins Auburn at an ideal time, too, as the team lost Tank Bigsby to the NFL.

The Tigers need to find an answer at quarterback among several experienced but mediocre (at least, so far) options. Until they find the right field general to lead the way, you'd better believe Freeze will be run-heavy.

Jarquez Hunter is back after piling up 668 yards a season ago, but Battie is another speed-burning potential star who, at 5'8", 170 pounds, probably isn't big enough to carry the load but can do plenty with the ball in his hands.

He was a force in the return game at Tampa, and he's coming off a season in which he ran for 1,186 yards and eight scores on a 6.7 average. Think Freeze can't use that skill set? He will put Battie in a position to make plenty of plays.

Look for him to be a game-breaking type this year for the new-look Tigers.


Omar Speights, LSU Linebacker

It's absolutely stunning that 247Sports believes there are 134 players in this year's transfer portal who are better than Omar Speights.

The LSU Tigers' portal haul is as good as anybody's, especially on the defensive side, where coach Brian Kelly hauled in potential impact players such as edge Ovie Oghoufo (Texas), cornerbacks JK Johnson (Ohio State), Duce Chestnut (Syracuse) and Denver Harris (Texas A&M), as well as linemen Jordan Jefferson (West Virginia) and Jalen Lee (Florida).

But the biggest impact player for '23 came at the Bayou Bengals' biggest position of need. That's where Kelly landed a big fish in Oregon State transfer Speights, a veteran starter who is 6'1", 227 pounds, intelligent and all over the field.

He's a sure-fire anchor in the center of that defense, and his poise and leadership will allow guys like Harold Perkins Jr. to fly around.

Speights has played since his first day in Corvallis, Oregon, and has registered at least 63 tackles in the past four seasons. For his career, he has 304 stops, including 25 tackles for loss, five sacks and three interceptions.

Is he the flashiest linebacker ever? No. And he may not be at the top of NFL teams' wish lists right now, but Speights is going to have a huge year in Baton Rouge, and that's how he'll surge up pro radars.

This is a guy who is going to play a long time on the next level because he's a steady force, and LSU got him to be one of the biggest-impact defenders in the SEC in its quest to repeat as SEC West champions.